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Oxygen isotopes of bovid teeth as archives of paleoclimatic variations in archaeological deposits of the Ganga plain, India

  • Shikha Sharma (a1) (a2), Michael M Joachimski (a1), Heinz J Tobschall (a1), Indra B Singh (a2), Devi P Tewari (a3) and Rakesh Tewari (a4)...

Oxygen isotope analysis was performed on enamel phosphate of mammalian teeth from archaeological sites Kalli Pachchhim and Dadupur in the central Ganga plain and Charda in the northern Ganga plain. The bulk oxygen isotopic compositions of enamel phosphate from third molars (M3) of Bos indicus individuals belonging to different cultural periods were used to understand the climatic changes during the past 3600 cal yr B.P. Oxygen isotope ratios indicate humid conditions around 3600 cal yr B.P., followed by a trend toward drier conditions until around 2800 cal yr B.P. Then from 2500 to 1500 cal yr B.P. there is a trend toward higher humidity, followed by the onset of a dry period around 1300 cal yr B.P. The study of intratooth δ18O variations in teeth from different periods demonstrates that the monsoon seasonality was prominent. Spatial changes in the amount of annual rainfall are also reflected in the δ18O values. Teeth derived from areas with intense rainfall have lighter isotope ratios compared to teeth from regions receiving less rain, but they show similar seasonal patterns. The long-term paleoclimatic variations reflected by fluctuations in bulk δ18Op values from M3 teeth match well with the regional paleoenvironmental records and show a good correlation to the cultural changes that took place during this time span in Ganga plain.

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*Corresponding author. Present address: Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, 253 Science 1, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA. E-mail address: Sharma).
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